Encyclopedia of The Bad Guys
James Russell Forgan Jr.
by Virginia McClaughry
My Great-Uncle-by-marriage was James Russell Forgan (Colonel). He was the brother of Marion Forgan. Marion married my Great-Grandfather’s brother – Halstead Gurnee Freeman. (see My Family Tree II.)
A description from a Princeton Journal of 1922 has a nice picture and mentions H.G. Freeman as his relative.
James married Ada Johnson – who later remarried and was Ada F. Addington of Chicago. Ada’s father was Jackson Johnson.
James and Ada had 3 children. Two daughters – Florence Forgan (married Henry P. Wheeler), Joan Forgan (married ? Parks of Denver, then Whitney Addington) and one son, the subject of this library article – James Russell Forgan Jr.
James Russell Forgan Jr. married Petronella Von Woyrsch on June 9, 1968.
New York Times –
Petronella, was a blood (direct) descendant of Remus Von Woyrsch, Guenther Von Woyrsch, and Seigfreid (SP?) and Udo Von Woyrsch. Both Siegfried (her father) and Udo (born 1895) her Uncle, were sons of Guenther, Siegfried being an older brother of Udo.
They were both Nazis and the wedding announcement in the NY Times does not reveal her family Nazi connections.
Excerpt images from the New York Times Betrothal Announcement –
Now we’ll examine her family lines much closer.
Woyrsch Coat of Arms
The Woyrsch are ancient Bohemian nobility – the oldest known person supposedly lived in Freistadt in 1370.
Lieutenant General Egon von Gersdorff
Petronella von Woyrsch’s Maternal Grandfather, mentioned in her betrothal announcement above, was Egon von Gersdorff. I believe his full name was probably Carl Adolph Egon von Gersdorff
Per the Axis History forum, on July 16, 1908, Egon von Gersdorff started with 23.ID (Dresden) – German Army, World War I – and he became a Lieutenant General.
Exploring his family line a little further, I think this may be a relative of his, perhaps his father?
Gersdorff first met Nietzsche in Pforta in 1861. He assisted Nietzsche in the early 1870s with dictation and proofreading. After 1876, they never met again; Nietzsche broke off all correspondence in December 1877. With the help of Heinrich Köselitz, they were reconciled by 1881, and renewed their correspondence.
– Carl von Gersdorff (1844-1904). 95 letters 1865-1887.
Petronella’s Paternal Great-Great Grandfather –
Remus Von Woyrsch
Remus (as quoted in the New York Times) blamed the English for World War I.
Petronella’s Paternal Grandfather –
Guenther (Gunther) Von Woyrsch
Günther v. Woyrsch was born in Pilsnitz on 13 Nov 1858 to Karl Von Woyrsch and Caecilie Websky – Karl was the son of Remus Von Woyrsch. Guenther married Princess Gertrud and had 5 children. He passed away on 30 May 1923 in Schwanowitz.
Two of their five children were Siegfried and Udo. Siegfried was the older of the two and was the father of Petronella.
Petronella’s Father –
Siegfried von Woyrsch
Siegfried was an officer in WWI, but in 1921, took over his father’s estate. Early on, he joined the Nazi Party (No. 162,349) and SS (No. 3,689).
Siegfried was promoted to SS-Obersturmführer on the 4th of July 1934 (perhaps he played a role in the Night of the Long Knives with his brother Udo) and in October of 1934 he was a member of the staff of the 16th’s.
Ref – 23) von Woyrsch, Siegfried / Unit – 16. Standarte / ———- / SS# 243.111 / Last Grade – SS-Obersturmführer / Exit date – 01.03.1935 – Panzer Archive
Obersturmführer was a Nazi party paramilitary rank that was used in several Nazi organizations, such as the SA, SS, NSKK and the NSFK. Translated as “senior assault (or storm) leader”, the rank of Obersturmführer was first created in 1932 as the result of an expansion of the Sturmabteilung (SA) and the need for an additional rank in the officer corps. Obersturmführer also became an SS rank at that same time.
On 1 Jan 1935 Siegfried was appointed SS-Obergruppenführer – the then second-highest rank in the SS.
He was also a recipient of the Hohenzollern’s Honor Cross, which is the the Catholic branch of the family’s House Order.
In addition, he was a recipient of all 3 orders which was very rare.
Only four possible recipients of the 3 Orders on there from what we know from the Award Rolls–
Hauptmann aD (Pio Bn 14) Lothar Baas, of Feldflieger Abteilung 26
Oberleutnant aD Walter-Heinrich Garbsch (Fusilier Regt 40)
Hauptmann aD (Feldart Regt 14) Walter von Holstor
Oberleutnant aD (1. Garde Regt zu Fuss) Siegfried von Woyrsch
The white and 3 black stripes is the PRINCIPALITY of Hohenzollern’s Honor Cross– the Catholic branch of the family’s House Order. DOUBLE Prussian and Hohenzollern branch Hohenzollern House Orders are not at all common.
All 4 survived the 1914 war, hence their aD ranks as shown.
– Discussion forum
Petronella’s Uncle –
Udo Von Worysch
Full name: Udo Gustav Wilhem Egon von Woyrsch
Udo was born in Schwanowitz or Zwanowice, Brzeg County, in Silesia in 1895. (He died 14 January 1983) the son of:Günther v. Woyrsch.
Udo first married Marie-Eva von Eichborn – ne Marie Eva Edelgard Elfriede Ottilie, born March 5, 1902 – but they divorced May 19, 1935.
The couple on their wedding day – June 25, 1924
She was the daughter of the landowner Wolfgang von Eichborn Kowitz. They had one child, a daughter named Tatjana Marie Eva Cäcilie born the following year.
Udo’s second marriage was to Inez Freiin (Baroness) von Tschammer und Quaritz in 1934. She was the daughter of the landowner Siegfried Freiherr von Tschammer und Quaritz (of the House Stephanshain). He had three children from this marriage.
Udo had 4 grandchildren. Three of them are in California and one in Germany. The three in California are from Udo’s first marriage to Marie-Eva.
– – –
An interesting biographical sketch of the Woyrsch family discusses it’s connection to the Von Cramon’s and mentions Udo and his war crimes during WWII.
It is sad to view the 1938 portraits of August and Helene Von Cramon when they were proud and respected. Shortly thereafter, in early 1939, they attended the 80th birthday of the Kaiser, but Helene died later that year and August died in 1940.
Later, one of their nephews was persecuted by Goering for having a Jewish wife, the husband of their granddaughter was executed for being involved in the July 20 1944 plot against Hitler, and a son-in-law was sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp. A nephew-in-law [Udo von Worysch] was imprisoned for war crimes. Quite likely after WWII the family lost any estates which were situated behind the Iron Curtain.
Petronella’s uncle did indeed have some very, very bad connections and participated in some of the most unimaginable atrocities against humanity during WWII.
Heinrich Himmler, for one.
Himmler and Udo (on the left)
Hitler congratulating Himmler on his birthday – 1943.
From early 1914 to 9 February 1919 Udo von Woyrsch served with the Germany Army as an Oberleutnant (first lieutenant) in the Great War. From 10 February 1919 to 23 August 1920 he was associated with an organization called the Grenzschutz (“border protection”) and with the Freikorps. He was awarded a variety of medals during the war, including the Iron Cross (First Class) and later the Cross of Honour 1914-1918 Combatants. – wikipedia
Early on, he joined the NSDAP (Member Number 162,349) and the SS (Member Number 3,689). Himmler charged him with organizing the SS in Silesa, he became the first commander of the SS-Obeabschnitt Sudost.
Udo was the leader of Abschnitt VI (Breslau) and he was also Himmler’s adjutant, then his ‘chief of staff’ – he was a favorite of Himmler. He also had a full-time job managing his father’s estate.
Ref – Heinrich Himmler: A Life By Peter Longerich
He repeatedly entertained Himmler at his estate in Lower Silesia, and enjoyed the “privilege” of addressing the Resichsfuhrer SS with the familiar “Du”.
Ref – Holocaust David Ceserani
According to this source –
Udo was always landing himself in trouble with Himmler because of his self-opinionated attitude and rudeness to other SS-Führer. You can see one of his personality traits emerging in the famous photo of the SS-Führer on the steps of the Brown House.
I assume he means this one?
Hitler meeting Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain – September 13, 1938
Or maybe this one –
In any case, Hitler was such a total cheap ass ‘carny’ showboat, I can see why Udo would make fun of him.
Note about the image – Hitler is striking a pose for photographer Heinrich Hoffmann whilst listening to a recording of his own speeches. After seeing the photographs, Hitler ordered Hoffmann to destroy the negatives, but he disobeyed.
In 1933, Udo was elected to the Reichstag, and during the night of 30 June to 1 July of 1934 he participated in the Night of the Long Knives, ordering the execution of his SS rival Emil Sembach.
Udo took command in Silesia and on the orders of Goring arrested a number of SA leaders, disarmed all SA headquarter’s guards and occupied the Breslau police headquarters, and murdered some of the SA officers as well.
The purge operations in Breslau and in the whole of Silesia were personally directed by the commander of Oberabschnitt Südost, SS-Gruf Udo von Woyrsch together with Ernst Müller. Various sources maintain that he had trouble with some of his men. It is also mentioned that there was a major roundup and arrest on an “armed SA camp” which briefly resisted the SS attackers. This might be a focal point, perhaps the SA-Staf. Nixdorf was one of those in that camp.
People killed in night of the long knives
Emil Sembach (Born 2 April 1891, SS Oberführer. Attached to SS headquarters in Silesia, he was expelled for embezzlement in February 1934 and had denounced Kurt Wittje’s homosexuality to the Minister of Defence and to the Reichswehr. He then asked Frick for protection.
Udo von Woyrsch, who had a personal vendetta against Sembach, discussed the case with Himmler in June and Sembach was arrested the afternoon of 30 June 1934 in Brieg (HQ of SS Oa Sudost) and taken to Oels.
On 1 July Sembach was taken into the mountains and shot by a Commando under SS-Hauptsturmführer Paul Exner on Woyrsch’ orders OR , drowned in a reservoir near Brieg)
Himmler had to put Woyrsch’s head on a pike over these events, and used that to push him to engage in what would be some of the worst atrocities of the war – in Poland.
Himmler was offering von Woyrsch, whom he had had to dismiss as leader of oberabschnitt east for being involved in unauthorized murders associated with 30 June 1934, a chance to ‘prove himself’ by taking radical action in Poland.
–Heinrich Himmler: A Life By Peter Longerich
As mentioned previously, Udo had a close friendship with Himmler (but also with Heydrich). So even though he was “removed”? Just 6 months later, on January 1, 1935 he was promoted to SS Obergruppenfuhrer (then the second-highest rank). It means Lieutenant General.
– – –
Udo and the Einsatzgruppen
As far as I can tell ‘Einsatzgruppen” means “special operations group”. They were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories. The Einsatzgruppen carried out operations ranging from the murder of a few people to operations which lasted over two or more days, such as the massacres at Babi Yar (33,771 killed in two days) and Rumbula (25,000 killed in two days). The Einsatzgruppen were responsible for the murders of over 1,000,000 people, and they were the first Nazi organizations to commence mass killing of Jews as an organized policy.
In 1939 on the night of August 31, Six Einsatzgruppen were constituted under the code word “Tannenberg” for the occupation of Poland. Essentially, Germans dressed up as Polish soldiers, then “invaded” a German radio station and planted a dead body of a “Polish radical” there. The Codeword that started the Operation (means GO!) was “Grandma’s dead.”
A few days later on September 3, Udo Woyrsch’s group was established by order of Hitler. It was called Einsatzgruppe z.b.V. für das oberschlesische Industrialgebiet – in English: Einsatzgruppe for special duty in the Upper Silesian Industrial Area.
However – there seems to be some confusion regarding this. Another source has Udo’s group as being established in August, and another one has it as being established by Himmler, and that it was Himmler that gave the order on September 3, 1939.
…responding to the news of alleged disturbances in the industrial district of eastern Upper Silesia, he [Himmler] ordered SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Udo Von Woyrsch to establish an Einsatzgruppe z.b.V. (‘for special assignments’) and made him responsible for ‘radically crushing the Polish uprising that is flaring up […] with all available means”.
– Heinrich Himmler: A Life By Peter Longerich
However it happened, it definitely did happen. I think it was probably Himmler that did it.
Udo and his men were reknown for their ruthlessness. They committed horrific atrocities on the the Jews of Poland.
Even the early days of September 1939 were marked by terror, when Einsatzgruppe z.b.V. under SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Udo von Woyrsch began to advance from Kattowitz behind the rear guard of the 14th Army of Wehrmacht Army Group South. The force had been rapidly assembled from mixed units of security and regular police specifically for duty in upper Silesia on Himmler’s teletyped order of the evening of 3 September.
– Holocaust David Ceseran
Those daily reports were rather horribly understated, as you can see.
By mid September Von Woyrsch’s group had begun began mass shootings of Polish Jews, aristocrats, intellectuals and priests.
After it had become clear that there was no significant uprising in the ‘area of operations;, Himmler extended von Woyrsch’s mission. He appointed him ‘Special Police Commander’ in the area of the 14th Army and ordered him to ‘disarm and crush the Polish bandits. Executions.’
Himmler was offering von Woyrsch, whom he had had to dismiss as leader of oberabschnitt east for being involved in unauthorized murders associated with 30 June 1934, a chance to ‘prove himself’ by taking radical action in Poland. What was required was murderous initiative, and in fact Einsatzgruppe z.b.V. was to carry out numerous pogroms against Jews in its path through Poland.
– Heinrich Himmler: A Life By Peter Longerich
Another part of the program (besides liquidating Polish intellectuals in the area of Katowice, Poland) was deporting the Jews of Danzig, West Prussia, Poznan, and Upper Silesia into the interior of Poland, where by 20 September the 14th Army reported mass shootings, especially of Jews by the “Einsatzgruppe Woyrsch“.
… Einsatzgruppe z.b.V., in contrast to other special units, unleashed a wave of systematic violence against the Jewish population which included mass executions and attacks on Jewish Institutions.
Presumably these acts were carried out on the personal initiative of SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Udo Von Woyrsch who, as one of Himmler’s favorites…..
The brutality of their behavior is clear enough….but eloquent entries in the daily reports of Einsatzgruppe z.b.V. referring to “synagogues catching fire”, “incidental shootings”, “pacification actions”, and “shooting insurgents”. (The Reports date from 6 to 22 September 1939, see Krausnick, Ensatzgruppen, p 41,52.)
– Holocaust David Ceserani
The same day (September 20th) the head of operations of the German 14th Army in Poland, commanded by Generaloberst Wilhelm List, reported that his troops were becoming restive “because of the largely illegal measures taken in the Army area by Einsatzgruppe Woyrsch’s mass shootings of Polish Jews, aristocrats, intellectuals and priests. The troops are especially incensed that, instead of fighting at the front, young men should be demonstrating their courage against defenseless civilians.”
What…did the Vatican and British slavemasters have some kind of special beef with the Polish?
I’d be willing to bet money that they did because this crap Woyrsch’s group was doing makes no sense, strategically, militarily, or in any way other than some kind of personal vendetta.
The army was so pissed, that General Gerd von Rundstedt, the head of the German military government in Poland, then told Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler that SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Udo von Woyrsch’s Einsatzgruppe would no longer be tolerated in the Operations Zone.
Not that it did anything, because apparently his group kept going in this way for another two months!
Not only did it keep going, on October 4th Adolf Hitler secretly declared an amnesty to protect the SS men who had served in Einsatzgruppen in Poland from military trials!
This amnesty included, among others, two SS men who had shot 50 Jews in a Polish synagogue on 14 Sept 1939.
Fracking monsters – all of them.
Udo Von Worysch was captured by the English approximately June 1, 1945. There is a document in the Harvard collection of the Nuremberg trials, where Udo admits to some kind of “testing” of incendiaries on people.
HLSL Item No.: 795
Personal Author: Udo von WOYRSCH (SS General of the Police) Literal Title: Affidavit. Descriptive Title: Affidavit concerning experiments on incendiary bomb injuries. Document Date: 3 May 1947 Language of Text: English Document Type: Trial document; from the case files of documents prepared for use in the trial. Trial Name: NMT 01. Medical Case – USA v. Karl Brandt, et al.
Nuremberg Case #9 Einsatzgruppen
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was Petronella’s uncle.
James Russell Forgan Jr. and Club El Morocco
Petronella and James helped to ‘revive’ Club El Morocco in the 1960’s while it was under ownership by Brit John Mills. The club was one of the many scenes in which certain high-society New Yorkers and their friends were ‘approached’ to try hallucinogenic drugs – part of CIA agents Al Hubbard and John Starr-Cooke’s brilliant plan for America.
It was also a bit of a mafia hot-spot.
It was in Forgan’s obituary that I first came across this little piece of he and Petronella’s history. It was put out by Princeton University, which Forgan had attended just like his namesake (his father) had.
Russell died at home in NYC Oct. 22, 2001, after a long illness through which he battled gallantly.
Born in Lake Forest, Ill., he prepared at St. Mark’s School in Southborough, Mass. At Princeton he received a degree in modern languages, and was a member of Triangle Club, Theatre Intime, and Key and Seal Club.
After serving as aide-de-camp to an Army general during the Korean War, he returned to NYC, where he successfully pursued a career in finance, investments, and filmmaking. In the late 1970s he sold his seat on the NY Stock Exchange, moved to England and then to Palm Beach, before returning to NYC and further financial ventures.
Russell had a lifetime special interest in writing and producing plays and screenplays. He helped revive the El Morocco nightclub, launched a school for backgammon-playing, helped establish a distinguished young sculptor, and patented an invention.
Russell was celebrated in memorial remarks by his stepdaughter, Valerie Livingston, for his well-honed wit, his theatrical sense of ceremony, and his ability to remain a gentleman in even the most trying of circumstances.
He is survived by his beloved wife, Kathy, and a stepson, Bret Livingston, as well as his stepdaughter. To them, all his classmates extend their deepest sympathies.
The Class of 1952
– Princeton Obituary
The El Morocco (sometimes nicknamed Elmo or Elmer) was a 20th century Manhattan nightclub frequented by the rich and famous in the 1930s and 1950s. It was famous for its blue zebra-stripe motif (designed by Vernon MacFarlane) and its official photographer, Jerome Zerbe.
In 1931, John Perona (born Eriane Giovanni Perona in Chiaverano in the Province of Turin, Italy), an Italian immigrant, with Martín de Alzaga opened El Morocco as a speakeasy at 154 East 54th Street, on the south side of 54th Street in the middle of the block between Lexington Avenue and Third Avenue, where the Citigroup Center now stands. After prohibition ended, part of what made the club the ‘place to be’ was the photographs taken by Jerome Zerbe which were always in the news the next day. Everyone always knew from the background zebra stripes on the banquettes where the celebrities had been.
The neighborhood started changing after World War II, and eventually Perona moved El Morocco to a four-storey townhouse at 307 East 54th Street, on the north side of the street near the corner of Second Avenue in 1960.
Perona died in 1961, and his son, Edwin took over the proprietorship. Later that year, Edwin Perona sold the club to John Mills, who owned it for three years.
Official reopening night – 1964
Porfirio Rubiroso and his French actress wife Odile Rodin (left), Mrs. Denniston Slater and actress Constance Bennett.
William Casey (his dad’s OSS buddy) – liked to hang out out there. A lot.
Other interesting tidbits –
*First club to use a velvet rope.
*In 1950, Humphrey Bogart was banned for life.
The club changed ownership again, and by 1971 James and Petronella were helping to now resurrect the El Morocco as a private dinner club/discotheque. James became “President” of the club, and it opened its doors in this new incarnation on December 17th, 1971. They had signed up 1,000 members of the ‘elite’ in several walks of society.
Guess who else the Forgan’s were friends with? The Onassis’s, Aristotle and Jackie Kennedy (widow of J.F.K) who came to the Opening of the new El Morocco.
James and Petronella eventually divorced, but they were together until at least 1982 as per this tax lawsuit. Apparently they were living in London at the time, and had some business called E.H.L. Investment Service.
Some time after this, he divorced Petronella and married a woman named Kathryn Zahony Livingston. Not much is known as to what he was doing after that.